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Independent monitors at HMP Ford criticise Minister for lack of planning to replace dangerous accommodation

In their 2020-21 annual report, published today, the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Ford raises the following concerns:

  • In spite of years of complaints about the unsuitability of the wartime accommodation huts, no proper provision had been planned for an orderly rebuild, with the result that, when the huts were condemned, there had to be a hurried exodus of occupants and the operating capacity was slashed at a time when open prison spaces were in short supply nationally.
  • The temporary container accommodation was installed at short notice but the attempt by HMPPS to convert them to double cells was ill-conceived and had to be immediately reversed, all at public cost.
  • Prisoners were not able to benefit from the usual resettlement opportunities in an open prison due to Covid restrictions.

The following positives were also noted:

  • Prisoners are treated fairly and humanely by the staff who work at HMP Ford and staff/prisoner relationships are generally good. The staff are particularly commended for ensuring prisoners were kept safe, with only 19 prisoners contracting Covid-19.
  • The Governor led a drive to ensure that the importance of diversity and inclusion was taken into account in every aspect of prison life. This was reflected in a greatly reduced number of complaints.

IMB HMP Ford Co Chair, Charles Pinney, said:

Prisoners work hard to gain access to an open prison. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions and the loss of release on temporary licence, this was the second year that prisoners were not able to gain either employment or work experience, complete education or prepare for family life: all of which are vitally important especially at the end of a long sentence”